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Activities that boost spatial reasoning

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Now that you have familiarized yourself with the intrinsic elements of Spatial Intelligence lets get cracking on activities that will boost spatial reasoning in your learners.

1. Use spatial language in everyday interactions
Spatial language is a powerful spatial learning tool. Preschoolers do better in spatial activities when parents use words such as triangle, big, tall, bent, curved, square, than parents who don’t use such language.
Example of spatial terms that can be added to daily interactions:

Type of term:                               Descriptions                                   Examples

Shape                                         2D/3D objects                                    Square, sphere
 
Dimensional adjective                Describe size of objects                      Long, short, big, tiny
                                                   spaces, people
                                                       
Spatial features                           Terms that describe features             Straight, curvy, bent
                                                    and properties of 2D, 3D
                                                    spaces, objects, people
                                                       
Spatial relations                           Terms that describe relative              In, outside, under, on top
                                                     positions of space, objects 
                                                     & people
                                                                  
NB: Don’t just speak at your child to teach spatial terms. Ask the child to repeat words and explain meanings. Help them make connections between spatial relations and objects around them (e.g. Is the Teddy UNDER the bed?)
 
2. Teach using gestures (and encourage kids to gesture)
A gesture is a powerful communication teaching tool. Research shows that children learn better when gestures are used by teachers, not when speech is used alone. This improvement is also detected in children who don't spontaneously gesture but do so after being prompted to.
 
3. Teach visualization
Using visual imagery to mentally represent an object not physically present. This is a powerful skills in problem-solving and spatial reasoning. Children can be taught this to enhance spatial thinking.
 
4. Play the matching game
Kids copy a built structure using blocks or Lego, depending on the child's age. Increase the complexity as their confidence in matching and construction increases.
 
5. Build structures in storytelling context
GENERAL PLAY with building objects such as lego can substantially increase a child's spatial thinking ability. You can even use toilet rolls, cereal boxes, etc to build into interesting structures.
PROBLEM TO SOLVE - Studies show that when building activities are done within the context of a story, a child's spatial thinking improves. Eg. Building a garage for the car
 
6. Do a TANGRAM and non-jigsaw spatial puzzles
A Tangram are ancient Chinese puzzles of 7 pieces. The pieces can be arranged into may different shapes, eg. Animals, people, objects. It is a teaching tool that can improve a child's spatial ability.
The jigsaw puzzle is recommended by many sources to help increase children's spatial ability. This is probably because studies find that pre-schoolers who build puzzles perform better in a mental transformation spatial task than those who don’t. It also finds that the more frequently the child plays, the better they perform.
There is a strong association between puzzle building and spatial intelligence. However, no controlled studies have been found to establish a causal relationship between them. 
The problem with jigsaw puzzles is that, unlike the Tangram activity, there is only one way to fit the piece together. A study has found that preschoolers who have played with a single-solution puzzle are less innovative and flexible in subsequent problem-solving than children who have played with a multiple-solution block set.
It appears that the single-solution are inferior toys to multiple solution puzzles when it comes to children's creativity. 
Tangrams and other multiple-solution puzzles are recommended to help improve spatial skills.
 
7. Exposure to map reading
This can help a child acquire abstract concepts of space and ability to think systematically about spatial relations that ae not otherwise experienced directly in the physical world.
Maps represent spatial information that differs from direct experience navigating the world. Children learn to think about multiple large-scale spatial relations among different locations  in a concrete way.
 
8. Read spatially challenging books 
Picture books draw the child into a world of visualization and spatial thinking. The increasing level of details help illustrate the different spatial relations among objects.
When reading these books with children, adults can enhance the spatial learning by verbal explanation and gestures. Research shows that such support from parents is linked to children's higher spatial scores.
 
9. Play video games such as Tetris 
These types of games are shown to be beneficial for a child's spatial intelligence. The improvement is more pronounced in low-ability children. 

10. Mental imagery
When talking on the phone, create a mental image of the person you are talking to.

11. Colour
Choose a colour of the day- observe closely where that colour occurs, how it complements or contrasts with other colours as well as the mood it creates.

12. Mapping
 From memory, draw a map of a familiar area or floor plan of a house. Travel to school or work by a different route.

13. Explore photography 
Taking photo of objects at different angles can enhance a child's ability to take on different   
visual perspectives and recognize changes in angle. 

14. Origami
Paper-folding activities to create a variety of different objects, animals, people, etc. at varying levels.

15. Play music instruments 
Studies show that playing a musical instrument can raise one's spatial-temporal ability. This is the ability to think of spatial relations that change through time. For example, this skill allows you to mentally pack your luggage 1 item after another to see how to fit the items in the most efficient way. A review of 553 studies support the theory that music instruction, rather than music 
listening, can enhance spatial skills.

16. Craft activities
2D & 3D modelling with playdough and toothpicks/ flat wooden sticks.

17. Geometry
Developing an understanding of geometry can enhance one’s spatial skills.

How to use Spatial Intelligence to develop study skills 
•    Use mind maps
•    Draw flow charts 
•    Illustrate your notes
•    Draw relevant doodles
•    Use colour-coding to highlight information
•    Make use of the Roman Room memory system:

Imagine a room you know well (e.g. your classroom, bedroom). Within the room, know the positions of features and objects.
The basis of the system is that the things to be remembered are associated with these objects so that by recalling the objects within the room, all associated objects can be remembered. 
E.g: You need to remember a list of poets (Rupert Brooke, GK Chesterton, Walter de la Mare)
As I look around the room I can visualize the following objects: table, lamp, chair, TV, phone, mirror. To help you remember a list of poets, visualize walking into the room. On the door is an (imaginary) picture of a man sitting in a trench writing poetry. Look at the table. On the top - imagine Rupert the Bear sitting in a small brook. This will remind you of Rupert Brooke. On the other side, is a chest, with big letters GK. This will remind you of GK Chesterton. The lamp is shaped with a tiny brick wall over which a female horse (mare) is about to jump. This will remind you of Walter de la Mare, etc.

If you have any questions, why don't you pop us an email on info@educanda.co.za 

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